Summary: When you start your prayers with praise, you will end them in peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Paul’s situation: Paul was in prison, possibly in Rome, awaiting a trial that could result in his execution (see Phil. 1:7, 13-14, 17, 20, 30; 2:17).
The Philippians’ situation: They were facing persecution (see 1:28).
What’s your situation? Are you facing adversity? Are you discouraged? Are you worried about something?
Big Idea: If you start your prayers with PRAISE you will end them in PEACE.
1. When you are faced with a problem, PRAY.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (v. 6).
A. The USUAL response to a problem is anxiousness.
• Anxiousness is never ACCEPTABLE.
We are commanded not to be anxious: “Do not be anxious about anything.”
Do not be anxious about what? Some things? The little things? No, “anything.”
• Anxiousness happens when you dwell on things that are beyond your CONTROL.
Matthew 6:25-27 (also vv. 28-34)
Illustration: Some people worry about dying. We can and should make healthy choices, but we can only do so much. Worry is counterproductive. It can actually make you die sooner.
• Anxiousness reveals that you need more FAITH in God.
Do you believe that God is in control? Do you believe that God is all-powerful? Do you believe that God’s wisdom is perfect? Do you believe that God loves you? Then trust Him.
B. The RIGHT response to a problem is prayer.
Paul doesn’t just say, “Don’t be anxious.” He also gives us the solution to anxiousness: prayer—thankful, confident prayer.
Someone once said, “Anxiety and prayer are more opposed to each other than fire and water.”
• Prayer should not be your LAST RESORT.
• Prayer shifts your focus away from our problems to GOD.
• Prayer ushers you into the PRESENCE of God.
The word “to” in the Greek text suggests the translation, “in the presence of God” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 2, p. 110).
“The Lord is near” (v. 5). Worry does not belong in the presence of the Lord.
• Prayer reveals where your faith is—in GOD not YOU.
Illustration: The disciples fear in the storm and Jesus’ power over the storm (Luke 8:22-25). “Where is your faith?”
When we pray, God wants us to leave our problems with Him. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
2. When you pray, don’t forget to start with PRAISE.
Illustration: Imagine that your neighbor constantly knocks on your door asking to borrow your stuff and never stops to thank you. Sometimes we treat God like that. We don’t stop to thank Him for what He’s given us in the past. God desires our praise. Luke 17 tells how Jesus healed ten lepers. “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18).
Before you ask, thank. This is was Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9).
A. Thanksgiving is praising God for His GOODNESS in the past.
Thanksgiving is a form of praise. The Psalms are filled with statements of praise and thanksgiving.
[Responsive Scripture reading]
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
May all who seek you;
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“The Lord be exalted!”
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.